Artificial intelligence technology could reshape the US government, but should it?

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Artificial intelligence is already making its mark on the global economy, and private companies aren’t the only ones taking advantage of it. Government agencies of all kinds are also embracing artificial intelligence, and in some ways surpassing the private sector’s ability to harness artificial intelligence for massive data analytics and cutting-edge applications.

Whether this sounds like innocent adoption of new technology or a nefarious plot to control the citizenry depends on your political perspective, of course. However, there is no denying that the same technology that is currently powering giants like Facebook and Amazon to leverage user information for profit, is also available to all aspects of government, including tax, defense, government. intelligence agencies and others. key entities such as agriculture and labor.

What can AI do for government?

According to a recent Deltek report, federal spending on AI in the US increased by 50% between 2018 and 2020, reaching nearly $ 1 billion, making it the fastest growth rate for any emerging technology. While AI was once the purview of scientific agencies like NASA and the Department of Energy, this technology is now migrating across the government spectrum in the quest to improve performance, create operational efficiencies, and reduce waste, fraud. and abuse. In large part, this transformation is being driven by legislation and policy directives from the highest levels of government.

So what exactly can AI do for government? A lot, according to Nadim Abillama, Steven Mills, Greg Boison and Miguel Carrasco from Boston Consulting Group. On the one hand, it can foster better policymaking by providing decision-makers with more accurate and timely information on demographics, behavioral trends, and a wide range of other metrics. At the same time, you can quickly provide the kind of analytical feedback needed to determine whether a particular policy or program is performing as planned and at the anticipated cost level.

AI can also reinvent the (often sad) user experience with government agencies. From chatbot-powered self-help tools to more personalized interactions based on personal stories, socioeconomic factors, eligibility requirements, and a host of other data sets. Anyone who has tried to navigate the maze of rules and regulations in, say, the Internal Revenue Service might appreciate the help of any intelligence, be it artificial, biological, or otherwise. In many cases, such as the Veterans Administration or Medicare / Medicaid, performance improvements could save lives even when cost reductions run into the billions of dollars.

Local help

But it’s not just the federal level that is entering the waters of AI. State and local governments are getting their feet wet, too. San Leandro, California, a city with a population of 90,000, recently installed a platform called CityDash providing a unified and intelligent data visualization framework for a wide range of municipal services. The system provides tools like a mobile chatbot to share data on everything from crime incidents to building permits to community events. CityDash also features a cloud-based knowledge graph with machine learning capabilities to analyze IoT data sets related to traffic flow, utilities, and even weather. There is also a public-facing dashboard that assists citizens with non-emergency services and general inquiries.

AI is already driving the development of smart cities that are expected to deliver all kinds of social benefits, he says AJ Abdallat, CEO of artificial intelligence development company Beyond Limits. With better traffic management, for example, we should see less carbon emissions, fewer traffic jams, fewer accidents, and improvements in infrastructure development and repair. At the same time, cities should be able to manage public services such as water and electricity, as well as services such as garbage collection and public safety, in a more finite way, directing resources where they are most needed and reducing waste or duplication of efforts. And this will not only improve local operations, but also the often complicated coordination that takes place between local, state and federal authorities, as well as quasi-state and private entities.

The government is in a unique position when it comes to artificial intelligence, as it is deploying it at the same time that it seeks to regulate it. While transparency has been one of the hallmarks of recent efforts to control the way companies use artificial intelligence, certain segments of government, particularly at the federal level, may not be as open. That will only raise suspicions about what the agencies are doing with our data and how it is being studied and manipulated.

At a time when mistrust of both government and artificial intelligence is on the rise, the idea that somewhere someone in authority is using artificial intelligence behind closed doors will only increase public unrest, regardless of how much the technology is improving. government services.

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